Study suggests humans mated with Neanderthals
2010 05 01

By Clara Moskowitz | CSMonitor.com

Humans today could be part Neanderthal, according to a new study that found our ancestors interbred with an extinct hominid species some millennia ago.

Neanderthals walked the Earth between about 130,000 and 30,000 years ago. While they co-existed with modern humans for a while, eventually they went extinct and we didn’t. There has been intense scientific debate over how similar the two species were, and whether they might have mated with each other.


A reconstruction is shown at the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany, where the first remains of Neanderthal Man were found in 1856. A new study has found signs of ’some significant amount’ of interbreeding between early humans and Neanderthals.Newscom/File

"The issue has been highly contentious for some time," said University of New Mexico genetic anthropologist Keith Hunley.

Last week at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Albuquerque, N.M., Hunley and colleagues presented the results of a new study that found evidence for interbreeding between modern humans and some other extinct ancient human species – either Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) or another group such as Homo heidelbergensis. The research was first reported by NatureNews.

The researchers looked at DNA samples from humans living today, and found signs of leftover Neanderthal genes introduced from this interbreeding. They looked at genetic data from almost 2,000 people around the world, and calculated how much genetic variation existed between samples. The results indicate that some extinct group of hominids mixed their genes with ours at two points in history, Hunley said.

One period of interbreeding probably occurred shortly after Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa around 60,000 years ago. The researchers found an excess of genetic diversity in all modern people except Africans, suggesting that the influx of Neanderthal-like DNA came after the exodus from Africa.

A second period of interbreeding is suggested by the fact that the researchers measured even more genetic diversity among people of Oceanic descent – people from Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and other Pacific islands.

"I think we show there’s clear evidence in the genome of living people of this mixture," Hunley told LiveScience. "The fact that there’s a clear signal implies that there was some significant amount" of interbreeding, he said.

This work is the first time scientists have used DNA from living people to look at this question, Hunley said.

In an earlier study, Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis found suggestions of Neanderthal and modern human interbreeding by comparing ancient bone fossils from the two species.

Trinkaus said the new work fits into his findings, though he hasn’t reviewed the details yet since Hunley’s paper has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. "The conclusion makes sense and fits with the majority of the data available," Trinkaus said.

Another anthropologist who has studied Neanderthal anatomy agreed.

"I have been arguing for this position throughout my career, ever since I began to study Neandertals and other populations," said Milford Wolpoff of the University of Michigan. "It has always seemed clear that some Neandertal anatomy appears in living populations."

Not everyone, though, will be easily convinced yet, Hunley said.


Article from: CSMonitor.com



Related Articles
X Woman: Not human, not Neanderthal, what is she?
Fossil DNA tells tales of red-haired Neanderthals
Scientists believe that Neanderthal Man was not related to Homo Sapien (Video)
Neanderthal DNA degradation (Video)
Human Likely Killed Neanderthal, Weapons Test Shows
Scientists unravel Neanderthal genome
Return of the Neanderthals
Neanderthal, Human Ancestor Could Chat
Neanderthals: More Advanced Than Thought?
Some Neanderthals Were Redheads
Researchers may remake Neanderthal DNA
Early human relative predates even dinosaurs
Lloyd Pye - Everything you Know is Wrong (Video)


Latest News from our Front Page

Chess-playing computers may cause the robot apocalypse
2014 04 23
Sore-loser chess programs might be the end of us all... In the movie The Terminator, we heard the human side of the story of Judgment Day, with the machines getting smart and seeing us as a threat. It wasn’t until the sequel that we heard the tale from the machine’s point of view, as it chose to start World War III ...
Archeologists’ findings may prove Rome a century older than thought
2014 04 23
It is already known as the eternal city, and if new archeological findings prove correct Rome may turn out to be even more so than believed until now. Next week, the city will celebrate its official, 2,767th birthday. According to a tradition going back to classic times, the brothers Romulus and Remus founded the city on 21 April in the year ...
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
2014 04 23
A Swedish MP who launched an official government investigation into the existence of chemtrails tells The Local why he thinks Swedes deserve the truth, even if it may leave some conspiracy theorists unsatisfied. "I can’t speak for other MPs, but I’ve had many, many calls over the past eight years about chemtrails. And these questions are not so easy to answer," ...
Mystery of Bizarre Duck-Like Ocean Sound
2014 04 23
If it quacks like a duck... it’s not always a duck. Scientists have reportedly gotten to the bottom of the mysterious ’Bio-Duck’ sound in the Antarctic. Here’s a recording of the strange sound (it’s kind of a stretch to say it sounds like a duck, but who are we to second guess the biologists?). --- Mystery of Bizarre Duck-Like Ocean Sound Solved By Tanya Lewis ...
’Extreme’ Carbon Dioxide Reduction will be a Death Sentence for Humanity & Planet Earth
2014 04 23
If we allow a fraudulent pseudo-environmentalist cult to control every aspect of our lives then our children are doomed to a totalitarian existence which Stalin could only have dreamed of. “The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine ...
More News »